ON ROCK: The Wild Iris
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – I was able to get a weekend of climbing in at Wild Iris climbing area in The Wind Rivers near Lander last week, and it’s a toss up as to what was better … the climbing … or the incredibly spectacular weather and scenery! The wild flowers were going off, the skies were azure blue, and the rock was uncrowded! This is one of the best times to go to Wild Iris due to the colors, weather and no crowds. However, all that changed I’m sure, on the following week when the Climber’s Festival took over the area. As I was belaying, I kept thinking about Todd Skinner, and how he and friends first developed the Iris, and wouldn’t tell anyone about their secret stash of limestone. The climbs are relatively short, but stout. Another climber I met from Colorado was saying the ratings were “stiff.” Two ways to get there: south of Lander on US highway 28 for 24 miles; turn off at Limestone Mountain Rd. (small green street sign on right); go north on gravel road, bear right, and switch back up to parking lot. Or, south from Jackson on highway 189/191 to Farson, left to South Pass, and around milepost 53 look for Limestone Mt. Rd. on the left. At roughly 9,000 feet elevation, usually the window of opportunity for climbing is limited due to early season snow conditions and weather. It can also be too hot to climb when the sun slams the beautiful looking dolomite. This year is different because of the low snowpack. The cool nights right now create a slow warm up on the cliffs and are perfect for cranking hard moves. We spent most of our time in the areas of OK Corral, Five-Ten Wall, and Cowboy Poetry. Sport climbing at its finest … clipping bolts and yucking it up! Most climbs were in the 5.10 range, but I was super stoked to worm my way up Cowboy Poetry (5.11.b to first anchor), Take Your Hat Off (5.10b to first anchor), and Honed On The Range (5.11b). All were on the Cowboy Poetry Wall. Gear we used: harness, belay device, 60 m. rope, 15 quickdraws, and the ol’ clipstick. Bring water, leave dogs home, bear proof camp, practice Leave No Trace, and people are encouraged to camp in campgrounds near Atlantic City, Lander or the parking lot (if you have a camper) due to the huge impact of campers at the “sites” under OK Corral. For beta: Wild Iris Guidebook by Piana, or, Lander Rock by Collins and White. Rock On!